Panoramic view of Recurse Center

Most of the people close to me know that I left London almost two months ago and crossed the ocean towards New York to enroll in the Spring 1 batch of the Recurse Center (formerly Hacker School). Having reached half of the time I’ll spend in the USA, it’s a good point to do some balance.

Having lost the weekly report train that at least one friend of mine got into, either I wrote this post right now or I would lose this train as well. So the following paragraphs are a rought report of my last 6 weeks in New York and Recurse Center (RC).

Starting with New York, it’s exactly what I expected. I didn’t have a lot of expectations (that’s just not my thing), but the few I had, brought to me by movie & TV shows totally match. The streets & buildings, the crazy subway system, the late nights, the (mostly) friendly & chatty people, the food… I couldn’t ask for more, really. After the first days that I spent in a hostel, I moved to my current place, a lovely flat in Bedford (Brooklyn) where I live with a very nice woman that’s been in New York for around 14 years. She even has a slow cooker, which I appretiate dearly.

Since the first tday I stepped foot into Recurse Center, becoming a better developer has been my very first goal. Opportunities like this one, where you get to sit in a room with so many bright & experienced people for so long, are very rare, so I try to remind myself everyday of that. Every idea, project, or even lunch & dinner are reasons to grab someone and pick their brains. And the best thing about this place is really simple: everyone is comfortable to be uncomfortable. The social rules every Recurser goes by are laid down on the first day and they couldn’t be better. They provide the solid foundation anyone needs to be open to admit their ignorance & shortcomings, and to be open to change. As the facilitators put it, usually you have to get uncomfortable to be able to learn. Watching the welcome talk being given to the new batch today reminded me of how precious this whole three months are, and gave me new focus for the upcoming six weeks.

I can point out one thing I did right as soon as I got here and another I did wrong. I’m really happy I got back on Trello and created a board to dump every possible idea or project I might come up with. It’s my go to place to jolt down quick thoughts or to do some project planning — I like this so much it was the advice I gave today to the newcomers. However, I regret not having set up an Evernote document where I would right down every day every single task I’ve concluded, from reading von Newmann’s biography to finishing my first Zulip bot (having such a journal would have made writing this post really easier). As from now, I decided to finally keep daily track of what I’ve done on Evernote, besides having a Trello board with ideas, projects, and general brainstorming for upcoming enterprises on RC. So here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been doing at RC:

  • Talked to virtually everyone on our batch, learning what I could about them: where are they from, favourite languages, music tastes, basically anything.
  • Started learning Haskell and solved Project Euler problems with it.
  • Paired a bit with several people, although I still have a long way to go and a lot of people to pair with.
  • Improved the Zulip weather bot we use internally.
  • Created a Zulip bot so I could kaomojis on our chat system. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Went to a lot of workshops & talks that people organise in the space, from design patterns to Go hands-on, passing through qigong mornings.
  • Started organising weekly movie nights (Hackers and Ponyo, until now).
  • Hacked together with Michelle a kind of contacts importing app for Recursers.
  • Laid down the basis for a useful project for myself, one which get me the gist of bands & artists I don’t know yet.
  • Started a UI/UX discussion group, where everyone join us and bring their projects to discuss: usability, use cases, visuals, or anything relevant to it.

And I think that’s most of it. This is one of the reasons I should have kept a proper journal… These past weeks were filled with numerous things, but only the ones I kept some kind of record of stuck to me, I’m probably missing a lot of good stuff here.

Finally, I’ll just leave a promise of definitely posting another post redarging Recurse Center as soon as it ends, and a link to the only place where I’m daily documenting my life here, mostly centered around photos I take and the non-technical stuff I do around here (usually with other Recursers). See you in 6 months for a heart-breaking farwell!